Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rejections Tell a Story and Build Faith

Rejection. How a writer handles rejection can make or break a career. Rejection can also test your faith in your abilities. Most every writer has felt the sting of rejection. I have a huge file folder filled with rejection letters. Every once in a while I pull the file out and read them. Not because I'm depressed, but because those letters tell a story, my story of how I kept working on my craft.

Do you want to take a peek in my rejection folder? I don't show it to just anybody, but for you, I'll make an exception. Give me a minute. (Using a crane to pull it out. Yah, it's heavy.)

As I open the file, you can see my first few rejections and that they are the standard form letters. Some have pretty letterhead. These are antiques. Most rejections are sent through email today. Anyway, I kept these standard form rejections and continued to work and send out my manuscripts.

Now look at the next batch. See how the standard form letters have handwritten notes of encouragement from the editors and agents. Cool, huh? Well, I knuckled down after receiving those and worked harder.

Ah...look! These rejection letters are gold. They identified problems in my manuscripts with recommendations on how to fix the problems. And see, there at the end? The editor said that if I made the revisions he'd like to see the book again. Totally awesome! Of course, I made the corrections. (Closing file and holding on my lap.)

My rejections tell the story of where I've been and how much I've grown as a writer. They certainly tested my faith in my ability, but they also made my faith stronger.

You might ask, do I still receive rejections? Yes, however most are through email. I have an online file for those. Over the years, I have learned there are many reasons for rejections: the publisher just bought a novel similar to mine, the publisher isn't the right one for my work, the publisher has reached their limit on accepting novels for a while, and on and on. Serious writers can't afford to let rejections stop them from trying.

Rejection letters/emails can be depressing. But that's okay. Just file them away (online or print them up and put them in a draw) and have faith in your ability to learn and grow as a writer. Rejections are the stripes you've earned in your battle to publication. Keep them and every year or so look at them. They will tell your story of where you've been, how you've grown, and give you hope. Really, they will.

You might want to set yourself a goal of receiving so many rejections a year. I did that. I reached that goal for a couple of years and then one day I actually sold a book. I firmly believe my rejections helped me build faith in myself so that my dream could true. They can do the same thing for you. :)

How do you feel about your rejections?  Are they your friends? Or your enemies?



  1. LOVE this attitude!! I've only sent out a few query letters - and I was lucky enough to get some personalized comments which really helped me to set my direction and make some really big steps. I'm getting closer to trying those query trenches again. And, yes, I'll keep every response!

  2. Jemi,
    That's great. I'm happy for you. Keep at it. You're going to make it.

  3. "Rejections are the stripes you've earned in your battle to publication." I love that! What a wonderful way of looking at it!

  4. Such a great way to look at things! I LOVE the idea of setting a rejection goal. How clever is that?

  5. Ooooh, that's a TOUGH question. I suppose it depends on where I am emotionally when I receive them, but mostly they're my friends. The kind of friends I don't want to hang with much, but I recognize they've made me stronger. One of my first rejections - received on my birthday - made me cry until I realized that if I could still write after receiving it, I could be a writer. Guess what? LOL

  6. Susan,
    Looking at rejections as though they are stripes we've earned in battle helps take the sting out of them. I'm glad you liked it.

  7. Lisa,
    Setting the goal of receiving so many rejections a year turned them into a positive for me. I'm glad you liked the idea. :)

  8. Victoria,
    Oh that was not fair, a rejection on your birthday. Sheesh! BUT at least you turned it into a positive. Good for you!!!

  9. Rejection letters are just like you say. We must have faith that we're on the right path and faith in our ability as a writer, and we must keep submitting. If we don't, we'll never be published.

  10. At first I felt hurt when a few rejections dropped by. Then I had a wonderful message from an agent, and she made me appreciate rejection. She showed me I can do this thing, I just have to have to keep striving forward.

  11. Inspiring post Kathi! I met someone in a writing class who called it her "rejection collection"--she said it was what she needed to collect in order to get where she wanted to be.
    And like you said, the key component along the way is faith.

  12. I'm indifferent to them. I get a rejection, feel bummed, toss it and move on!

  13. Carol,
    So true. We must keep submitting and have faith in our ability as writers. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Coleen,
    I'm glad you found this post inspiring. I hope others do as well. Thanks for stopping by and leaving your inspiring comment.

  15. Laura,
    Some rejections for me have really stung and it took a while to set them aside. I'm glad they don't give you a problem. :)



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